White women, we must wake up. Hear me out, read to the end, and if you now hate me or think I’m wrong that’s fine but please don’t check out just because I am telling you to wake up.
I am one of you — a suburban, college educated, home-owning, karate parent (ok, not a “soccer mom” but that’s the closest I can get). I know the number of pressures we are feeling — obligations to our families, both immediate and extended, the stress of the economy, the fear of the world our children are growing up in and don’t forget the constant barrage of people telling us to take care of ourselves.
There doesn’t often seem like enough money in the bank account, time in the day, or energy in our bodies to handle it all. However, these crises have been going on for decades and they are coming to a head because corporate greed has consistently been placed before you and your families. Bottom lines have been growing to epic proportions that have continued to edge out our solidly middle class living — it has not been anyone other than corporate profits and making money for boards and shareholders that have created the world we are struggling so hard to live in.
Remember when living on one income didn’t seem like a crazy idea? Not that I personally would make a great stay at home mom, and I don’t want to be one, but if you do that life can feel so out of reach. Look at what’s been happening to local stores — small businesses that spend MOST of their money back in the community they live in have been edged out by corporate retailers and franchises because the local guy can’t keep up. But this isn’t about the economy — or I should say this isn’t JUST about the economy.
The world is hurting, the world is on fire, and we generally keep voting for people who want to pour gasoline on the fire.
We have been on this precipice before as a culture, we used to be ok with children dying or being badly injured in factory accidents. We used to be ok with bosses making it impossible for employees to escape a fire (yes, that really happened, look up the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire).
We have been the pawns in other people’s games unless we the people, all the people, stood up against it. Children don’t die working (as often) and employees have basic rights because we stood up and fought the powers that be for those rights.
We can do it again; we can change the world if we stop being pawns in the game played by those who just want to tap us on the shoulder and run away.
The real “they” we should be fighting are the ones who don’t have ALL children’s best interests at heart. The ones who want children born but don’t want them fed, clothed, educated, or loved by the society they live in.
We should not be arguing with people, some of them have a smaller slice of the pie than we do, over who’s got more pie when corporations are bringing in record profits for their shareholders.
This isn’t new information and it’s very easy to search for who’s really winning the race right now and for the most part it isn’t any of us, but “they” want us to believe we’d win the race if the other guy wasn’t there.
This isn’t a zombie movie; you do not need to be the fastest to make it out alive (in the name of transparency if this WAS a zombie movie I’d kick someone in the knees to ensure I get away to fight another day).
Follow the money.
Who benefits from us fighting each other? Who benefits by keeping everyone else scrambling over the left overs?
Don’t play into the fears. We have been through this all before but the “mine” mentality has never been the savior when we’ve been in this position. During World War II, when the government needed more resources to fight the fascists, what did we do as a society?
We gave up our nylons, we tended victory gardens, we rationed milk, eggs, and butter. Do you think the allies won WWII without our support and banding together? Did the “mine” mentality beat the Nazis?
Do you think it’s going to beat the Nazis now? There are Nazis and a million other groups who are so afraid of losing the power that they tenuously hold now that they are willing to attempt to overthrow the government to keep it instead of being able to see that we can all be part of the brilliant future, a future made of a million different threads.
“A rising tide raises all boats,” I’ve heard from people still thinking trickle down economics works (newsflash, it doesn’t and hasn’t ever worked) but if that’s the case then let’s work to raise the boats for as many people as possible because it will then raise the boats for everyone.
We have the power to protect our children and to make workplaces and communities safe; we’ve done it before. We have the power, as white women, to help make decisions that protect all children and show all children that they are loved and cared for regardless of their circumstances. If the other 6-year-old children in my daughter’s first grade class feel as safe, stable, and loved as she does, imagine the world she would live in as an adult?
As I tell my daughter often, a lot of times hurt people then hurt people. We can’t make hurt people feel better by hurting them back, hurting others, or ourselves. It takes a lot to step back and act from a place of love and empathy. People are telling us they are hurting; people are telling us that we are doing the hurting (or maybe in some cases just not helping); step back and examine yourself to see where that could be the case. I am not perfect, and I don’t believe anyone is asking for perfection, but if we can all do a little something better it will push the needle in the right direction.
Don’t just fight for your kid to be on the soccer team or for your kid to see themselves in books read at school — fight for all kids to be able to join the team or see themselves in media. Fight for all kids because those are the kids that your child is going to one day interact with as an adult.
In the immortal words of Whitney Houston:
“I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be”
~Greatest Love of All
If you want to create a future for your kid, there must be a future for all the children on this planet and as white, suburban mothers we have the power to do that.